Wed, Jan 11, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Legislature slashes budget

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

After weeks of haggling, the legislature yesterday finally agreed to slash the government's budget by NT$41 billion (US$1.2 billion), the largest cut since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in 2000.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that about 20 controversial budget proposals would be voted on tomorrow afternoon, including the arms procurement budget.

Yesterday marked the last day of the second-phase of cross-party negotiations over the government budget, during which party negotiators bartered over items on which they had failed to reach agreement during the first phase.

The Executive Yuan estimated annual revenues at NT$1.4 trillion (US$42 billion), while annual expenditures will be NT$1.5 trillion. The projected annual income is 5.3 percent more than this year, while the proposed expenditures represent a 0.5 percent decrease year on year.

The long-stalled arms procurement bill stands no chance of passing during this legislative session as the Procedure Committee yesterday rejected it for the 45th time.

Yesterday marked the committee's last meeting for this legislative session. The legislature will break for its winter recess on Friday.

The pan-blue dominated committee yesterday voted 19 to 13 in favor of a proposal filed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Fai (費鴻泰) to shelve the arms procurement bill, confirmation of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) Control Yuan nominees, amendments to the Referendum Law (公民投票法) and three other bills proposed by the Executive Yuan.

The committee also voted down the party asset bill proposed by the administration and a different version proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus. The bill is designed to compel the KMT to return its improperly acquired party assets to the state.

To honor a consensus reached at a cross-party meeting on Monday, the committee yesterday agreed to place revisions to the organic bill of the Bureau of Labor Insurance on top of today's legislative agenda.

It is followed by amendments to the Organic Standard Law of the Central Government Agencies (中央行政機關組織基準法), revisions to the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) and a draft temporary statute regarding the adjustment of the Executive Yuan's functions, in that order.

The committee also agreed to let lawmakers confirm the 13 National Communication Commission nominees tomorrow morning and vote on controversial items in the budget in the afternoon.

On Friday, the last day of the legislative session, five bills will be put to a vote if no consensus is reached during cross-party negotiations to be held on Friday morning.

Also placed on the agenda are the draft amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Control Act (菸害防治法), although the odds of them passing are slim.

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